Is Josh O’Connor from ‘Challengers’ Jewish? An Investigation

Is everyone's new favorite "hot rodent boyfriend" a Jew? Let's dive in.

Josh O’Connor is one of the hottest actors right now. The Brit has gained notoriety in recent years through his roles as a young Prince Charles in “The Crown,” Mr. Elton in “Emma” and Arthur in “La chimera.” Of course, I also mean hot as in extremely physically attractive. After playing Patrick Zweig in “Challengers” — a film in which his character nearly has a threesome and is not infrequently semi-nude — O’Connor has gained fans for his looks.

A quick search on Twitter for “josh o’connor hot” reveals tweet after tweet of people pining after O’Connor. And, randomly, many calling him “a hot rodent boyfriend,” comparing him to Remy from “Ratatouille,” Stuart Little and Roddy from “Flushed Away.” So, naturally, I was intrigued when I also saw this tweet, claiming that the implications of calling Josh O’Connor a “hot rodent boyfriend” are bad considering that he’s Jewish.


It’s time to investigate whether or not Josh O’Connor is Jewish.

As with previous investigations of this nature, in order to determine if Josh O’Connor is Jewish, we’re looking to check at least one of two boxes. Does Josh O’Connor identify as culturally or religiously Jewish? And/or, does Josh O’Connor have Jewish ancestry? If the answer to either of those questions is a resounding yes, he’s a member of the tribe!

Let’s start with the first question. Does Josh O’Connor identify as culturally or religiously Jewish? Pretty easily, we can find online that O’Connor doesn’t identify as Jewish religiously or culturally. In an August 2023 interview with Vogue, O’Connor revealed that he grew up Catholic. (Though in the interview, he alluded to the fact that he considers himself to be areligious now. “I sort of think this is my God now,” he said, gesturing to the stage at the National Theatre in London.)

However, whether or not Josh O’Connor has Jewish ancestry is an entirely different story. According to IMDb, O’Connor is of Irish, English, Scottish, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish descent. Examining this claim a bit more closely, it appears that O’Connor’s closest Jewish relative is his maternal great-grandmother Nancy Kohnstamm. Per a genealogy website and (which, you know, take with a grain of salt), Nancy’s parents were Rudolph Kohnstamm, a German Jew, and Emily Piza, a Sephardi Jew whose family hailed from from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Curaçao and the Netherlands.

“O’Connor has never spoken about his Jewish heritage, as far as we know, but his maternal aunt, author Madeleine Bunting, wrote about it in her book ‘Love of Country: A Journey Through the Hebrides,'” Lior Zaltzman, deputy managing editor of Kveller wrote in 2020. “She is also the author of the book ‘The Model Occupation,’ about what happened when the Nazis occupied the British islands, which, she claims, had a small part in the Channel Islands’ process to recognize their legacy in the Holocaust.”

Interestingly, because Josh O’Connor’s Jewish heritage is passed down through his matrilineal line, halacha, or Jewish law, would technically see him as a Jew. Or, in other words, because Nancy Kohnstamm was Jewish, that means that Jewish law considers O’Connor’s grandmother Romola Jane Farquharson to be Jewish. In turn, that means that O’Connor’s mother Emily Bunting is Jewish and, subsequently, Josh O’Connor is considered to be Jewish.

To be perfectly clear, not all Jews use halacha as the metric to determine who is Jewish or not. Many, many patrilineal Jews identify as a Jews without undergoing a conversion process. And we here at Hey Alma go by the rule that a Jew is a Jew is a Jew is a Jew.

All that to say…

Verdict: Yes! Josh O’Connor has Jewish ancestry and is technically Jewish according to Jewish law. That said, Josh himself doesn’t seem to identify as Jewish and that choice should be respected.

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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